If I asked you this question, how would you respond?
“Why do we say God is mysterious?”
Perhaps you would say something along the same lines as I did, “Because He is.” End of story… or is it?
I have always been enamored with the way God moves. And the way He has revealed things of Himself throughout my life and in the lives of others around me. Even being out in creation or looking at the night sky, I am often reminded of how small I am and how big He is. How can we wrap our minds around the One who is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end? How is He present in all things and how does He work in and out of time? Scripture tells us His ways are above our ways and I’ve settled over the years into an understanding that God is very mysterious.
But what happens when we stay in this place of the mystery of God and start to feel like He is unobtainable, unrelatable or unknown? If the Bible tells us that the deep secrets or mysteries of God have been given to us through Christ, why do we remain in the mystery?
In Colossians Paul talks about the mystery of God being kept secret for ages, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people, “To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
To the church of Corinth, Paul says that we have been given the Spirit of God as well as the mind of Christ. “But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets.”(1 Cor 2:10) When I looked into the word for deep secrets I loved the way it also translated to how the Spirit shows us ‘even the depths of God.’
Spending time in Paul’s letters this week reminded me of the mystery of God being revealed through Christ. This idea of the mystery became less based on the things I don’t know of God, and more of an invitation to going deeper into His heart and character that have been freely given to me.
I realized in my own story, there have been times where the mystery of God has felt like space between us. There have been many times that I have wanted more of Him or more from Him that I felt He withheld from me. In some seasons I wanted more clarity in what He was asking of me or calling me to. When the answers didn’t come or some of the plans I thought He had for me didn’t go well, I felt the sting of the mystery. If we do have the mind of Christ, how do we navigate these times where we may feel absence in the unknowns and uncertainties of our lives?
I was mulling this over on a hiking trip up the North Shore here in Minnesota. I prayed a simple prayer and asked the Lord if He is mysterious. As I sat in silence in the woods around me noticed how my senses had engaged in the sounds that were bursting forth as I stopped to catch my breath. Minutes before this all I could hear were my steps as I moved quickly through the snow covered trails. Sitting still I could hear a symphony of sound as the wind moved through the trees.
In no time, all of my senses shifted as I listened more intently. I thought about how much I could hear down in the valley I was walking in, but how limited my vision was because of the dense forest. I had lost all sense of direction. Before this I was walking on a tall mountain ridge that allowed my eyes to see far and wide and I could easily navigate my route. As I sat and thought through all of these experiences I recalled a night hike I had been on the evening before. We were not to use any flashlights for a guide and relied fully on our other senses to navigate by the dim moonlight.
Suddenly I thought of the times in my life where God had felt the most mysterious. I remembered being in the dark valleys where it was hard to navigate a way out. But He reminded me that the valleys were not dark to Him and it was never a mystery, but a place I discovered more of Him. In each of those seasons I had begun to perceive His sound around me. His voice, His words and His love guiding me and building me up like I had never experienced before.
In the mountain top seasons, I had the joy of seeing things clearly and the path laid out for me enjoying the splendor of His majesty and His glory. Slowly the idea of the mystery started shifting. Looking backwards I could see nothing of mystery, but a testimony. Could our testimony be the revelation of the deep secrets of God?
I stumbled across this interesting translation conundrum, “When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan.” (1 Cor 2:1) Many translations will use the word mystery, wisdom, or testimony. This is because scholars are not sure if Paul wrote mystērion (mystery) or martyrion (testimony) in the Greek. Initially I was intrigued with how different the sentence reads if I place the word testimony here instead of mystery. But as I looked at how the mystery of God was being revealed to me through my own story and journey with Him; I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to describe the indescribable but through the testimony.
So why is God mysterious? Perhaps it’s because the story isn’t over but the access has been given and the invitation to the depths of God is within each of us.